Mardon Me, Padam
Will posterity recall your accomplishments? Or, as in the case of Reverend William Archibald Spooner, will it remember you for an accidental slip of the tongue?
Spooner was a warden at Oxford University in England, from 1903 to 1924. One day, he was announcing the hymn “Conquering Kings Their Titles Take” but instead said, “Kinquering Kongs Their Titles Take”—and in one “swell foop,” the spoonerism was born.
Oxford students wasted no time before producing their own examples and attributing them to the warden. Luckily, Spooner had a sense of humor and even added more of his own misspoken expressions to the growing collection. Read oft-quoted spoonerisms!
No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly.
—Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533–92), French essayist